Was it fair to describe the Japanese military leadership in WW2 as being very risk averse in nature?

Nov 2014
393
ph
#1
Was it fair to describe the Japanese military culture in WW2 as being very play it safe and very risk averse? For example, the Pearl Harbor attack plan was quite risky, and lower ranked Japanese officers do have a tradition of going against orders, or stretching their interpretation of orders in response to favorable tactical conditions, and the captain of the Shokaku, or Zuikaku, risked capsized his damaged ship in order to get back to Japan on the double after the Coral Sea battle.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,240
here
#3
Was it fair to describe the Japanese military culture in WW2 as being very play it safe and very risk averse? For example, the Pearl Harbor attack plan was quite risky, and lower ranked Japanese officers do have a tradition of going against orders, or stretching their interpretation of orders in response to favorable tactical conditions, and the captain of the Shokaku, or Zuikaku, risked capsized his damaged ship in order to get back to Japan on the double after the Coral Sea battle.
risk averse is the avoidance of risk. I think the Japanese were very much the opposite of risk averse.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,104
#6
The whole attack on Pearl Harbor and the following campaigns where Japan took British and US far east possessions was audacious and risky. It was obviously risky to get into war with those powers, although it might have not been easy to avoid. Getting into war with China was also risky, as it wasn't as technologically advanced as the other powers mentioned, but hard to defeat with its huge area and population. All of these decisions were presumably made at the political level and not mainly by the military. They tried all sorts of crazy stuff when things got desperate, like kamikazes and balloon bombs. I don't know that much about their tactics, but the image is that they took risky approaches.

Not sure about the British, but the German and US approaches were to give officers discretion in interpreting orders and adapting to the situation. This may not have applied to orders from Hitler, such as his no retreat orders. By contrast, the Russian / Soviet approach was generally that orders from generals and so on had to be followed to the letter. Japan is famous for consensus management, where top managers follow recommendations from below, so I find it hard to believe that they had a particularly top down approach.
 
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Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,356
South of the barcodes
#7
???

I'm not seeing what that has to do with being risk averse or not.
Career risk rather than body risk.

The Japanese had a severe problem with following orders to the letter and refusing to deviate from them despite losses and setbacks.

An officer would get his orders and follow them even if it cost his life or the lives of his men rather than risk his career, prestige and honour by finding a better solution.

Roughly translated, if you tell and office to send a platoon down a road to attack a target they'll do it. If they get defeated they'll send a company the next night. If they fails they'll send a regiment and so on. they have order, theyve accepted the orders, they'll keep trying until they win or die.
But would they think to say going down that road is suicide, the defenses are ready, lets cancel the attack and go a bit left through that river gully?
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,356
South of the barcodes
#10
Or to put it another way, orders are orders, obey.

Or the Matthew Ridgeway method. You are ordered to take an airborne division and land it on Rome ahead or our main attack. Ridgeways response was to basically tell them where they could stick their plans and to call it off.
One airborne division that would be needed later gets saved from slaughter.
 
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